Luxist Drives the Rizk Ra, Pens "How do We Love Thee..."
There is nothing we don't love about the Rizk Ra. Nothing. According to Merriam-Webster, the first definition of "holophrastic" is: using or consisting of a single word that functions as a phrase or sentence. If the phrase in question is "Awesomest driving amazement," its holophrastic equivalent is "Ra."
But it won't do any good trying to explicate the extent of our love because we, and you, would be here all week. So instead, we've picked the ten things we love most about the Ra. It was not an easy list to put together because, in case we hadn't mentioned it, we love everything about the Ra...
Gallery: Luxist Drives the Rizk Ra
1. We Love its Story
Waël Rizk is a mechanical engineer. Like an absurd number of his masculine gender, he wanted to make a car, and the car that he had in mind to make would be monumental in performance, design and materials.
The Rizk Ra is not that car.
The car I speak of is the second car Rizk wants to build. The Ra is the first car, a completely different car, a car designed as practice for that second, ultimate machine. See, Rizk knew he wanted to work with advanced materials and knew he'd need practice working with them and shaping them exactly as he intended, not to mention needing a serious schooling in how to design and build a car that could run further than a customer's driveway.
The Ra is that car. It's a practice car, a brainstorming car, built with the aid of that Jaguar-taming mechanic Ken Schutze. And declaring that the Ra is a first stab at making a car is like saying that Michelangelo carved the Pietà as practice for David.
2. We Love to Look at it in Ways Uncouth
Staring. Ogling. Leering. These are things you can't do in what passes for polite society. But that's exactly what we do with the Ra, and we feel no shame. We give it the filthy eye. Sometimes we peer around corners at it, stalker-like. Looking at it has the same effect on our soul as morphine: transport to a place that is quiet, mystical, carefree. It is inspired by the 1957 Aston Martin DBR2, but let's dispense with all the vocabulary – it looks like this:
3. We Love its Spacious Accommodations
If you've ever been in a 1957 Aston Martin DB2, or any vintage racer, you'll know they weren't designed to fit human-sized humans. They were designed for racing drivers, small, light fellows who additionally didn't mind being squished into leather-and-steel capsules. You need to be a lithe and lissome as a cheetah to even think about being okay with it.
Not so with the Ra. Custom designed for today's wealthy clients, who are known not to have the physiques of racing drivers, the interior is joyously roomy. The seats and that Neptune-sized steering wheel don't move, but the pedals do. In the Ra, finding the right position takes less than a minute. In a real vintage runner, you'll spend a minute figuring out how you're even going to get in without recourse to Cirque de Soleil maneuvers.
4. We love its Aerogel
To keep the central tunnel cool without adding massive amounts of weight in padding, Rizk uses Aerogel. Aerogel is a substance developed by N.A.S.A. to keep the Space Shuttle cool enough not to flambee during reentry to the Earth's atmosphere. The Ra marks the first use of Aerogel in a passenger car.
And there are details like that everywhere. The panels are all carbon nomex, not metal, built around a carbon and honeycomb tub. Herman Miller Aeron chairs are great in any weather and don't collect water. The hood doesn't raise, it slides forward on rails so you can work on the engine in unobstructed light and you don't need to duck. The windscreen is low enough to remain out of view, high enough to keep your eyes from watering if you aren't wearing sunglasses. It has a full-sized spare.
5. We Love its Compromises
The turn signal lever requires manual operation to turn on and off, which wouldn't be all bad but it's in the center of the dash. To refuel you need to raise the trunk. If you were in Phoenix and pointed the Ra west, then climbed over the windscreen and walked to the end of the hood, you'd hop off the headlight and onto Venice Beach – it's stupendously long up front. You can't stop anywhere – and we mean, anywhere – without having to answer questions. And while we love the even delivery of Jaguar's inline six, we'd recommend ordering the Chevrolet LS3 V8 engine with your Ra, even if it's not period correct. Oh, and anyone can steal the Ra, but still...
6. We Love the Way it Starts
Flip the red toggle safety up, push the toggle switch forward, then push down on the black rubber button that lives next to it. This isn't a hard plastic circle like you press when you're trying to get to the third floor – this is one of those soft, squishy buttons with hard metal underneath, the kind you find in places where people do serious, badass things that start with "On my mark...", like send men to the moon... and launch missiles. Badass missiles.
7. We Love that it Sounds Like Gunfire and Grenades
Custom headers run down to dual exhaust tips just ahead of the driver's door. As soon as you hit that black button there's an explosion that settles into a filling roar, and when you put the pedal down it's like you're shellacking innumerable foes with a Mark II S Sten gun. Everytime you blip the throttle you want to scream, "Take that! I said take that!"
8. We Love Being on the Run
Let there be lightness. And Power. In abundance. Amen.
The 4.2-liter Jaguar six-cylinder has 265 horsepower and 283 lb-ft of torque. By comparison, the V6 in the Ford Mustang makes 300 hp and 280 lb-ft., the inline 6 in the BMW 328 makes 230 hp and 200 lb-ft. But the Mustang weighs 3,750 pounds, the BMW 3,351.
The Ra weighs just 2,100. That's only 200 pounds more than a Lotus Elise, but with 60 more horses and 150 additional lb-ft. So whenever we get in, we get going. We can't help it. And we don't want to. (However, even when you're going 25 mph it feels like speeding...)
9. We Love the Sink or Swim Driving
There are no electronic aids. No airbags. No power steering. In fact, no power anything. There is no guide on the gearshift knob to tell you how many ratios it has or which one of them is reverse. Its long, narrow racing pedals are bottom-hinged and require accurate foot control. The narrow-gauge tires won't rescue you if you get showboaty and don't know how to handle the throttle in a skid. The gauges tell you how fast you're going, how much fuel you have, how fast the engine is revving, what its temperature is and what the oil pressure situation is like. Everything else down to your finely tuned ear, finely tuned rear end, or finely tuned guess. Good luck.
10. And We Love the Dream
Driving the Ra makes us feel like we have a week's worth of dates lined up with Grace Kelly, Lena Horne, Audrey and Kate Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Sophia Loren, Vivien Leigh, Josephine Baker, Carole Lombard, Eartha Kitt and Eva Six. Yes, we know that's eleven women for one week. With the Ra, we'll make it work. The King of Spain has left us six messages pleading for us to pick him up, take him to In-N-Out. He might have to wait until next week. A rose gardner in England is tending a bed of roses whose petals are being nurtured only for the chance to be thrown at our feet. Lions and lambs... well, the lions still eat the lambs, but the lambs are all right with it.
And you know what? So are we.